The European Commission could not have been clearer in its statement that it “does not endorse” Malta’s cash-for-passports scheme, despite this being one of the main justifications used by the Maltese government and those it partners with to quell complaints on the sale of citizenship.
Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová said in response to questions by PN MEP Roberta Metsola that there was no endorsement of Malta’s citizenship programme. On the contrary, she referred to a report by the European Commission, in its first assessment of these schemes published last week, that concluded the programmes in Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria had opened Europe to money laundering, tax evasion and organised crime.
“We just did what we had to do in the report within our competence, the legal competence, [since] citizenship is being awarded as a prerogative of the Member State. But, I think it was very clear what we wrote and I will clearly repeat: we do not endorse this system,” Jourová said on Tuesday.
She was addressing questions by Metsola, who said: “However the industry lobby tries to sell it, citizenship has nothing to do with investment… it is the exchange of cash for rights with no genuine link to the Member States concerned with very real security and corruption implications”.
Metsola said that the main selling point was precisely that applicants do not need to have a genuine link to the country. “So your private plane barely needs to touch the ground before you’re granted EU citizenship… you pay once, and your descendants benefit forever in every Member State”.
Metsola referred to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat during her speech at the European Parliament, saying that he had boasted of Malta’s scheme as the only one with “the official endorsement of the European Commission.”
Good to hear the @EU_Commission confirm that – despite Muscat's claims – it does not, in any manner, endorse, Henley & Joseph Muscat's cash-for-passports scheme.
Our rights should not be for sale.
— Roberta Metsola MEP (@RobertaMetsola) January 29, 2019
The MEP stressed that apart from free movement, the rights being afforded to applicants include voting and standing for elections. She told the Justice Commissioner: “You’re unable to stop it, but can you at least say that this scheme of my country does not have the endorsement of the Commission?”
She got an unequivocal reply.
Metsola said the populists were plunging Europe into constant crises because they keep refusing migrants from NGO rescue vessels, underlining the sheer hypocrisy of Malta’s cash-for-passport scheme.